Two of the top prospects in the upcoming 2012 NHL Entry Draft are Nail Yakupov and Mikhail Grigorenko.
They were both born in Russia, but they decided to leave their homeland before they were even drafted so that they could play in the Ontario Hockey League and Quebec Major Junior Hockey League respectively.
“All the teams asked me about this,” Grigorenko told NHL.com. “I understand why they’re concerned about this, but I told them I will not go there (to the KHL) for sure.”
Does the fact that he’s even being ask suggest that the “Russian Factor” still exist?
“Only if you want to be blind, dumb and stupid,” Craig Button said. “It would be one thing if you had this enormous talent pool (from Russia), but there’s not an enormous talent pool.”
The Edmonton Oilers might end up taking Nail Yakupov with the first overall pick, and if their head amateur scout, Stu MacGregor, is any indication, Yakupov’s origins won’t be a factor.
“The Russian Factor is nothing,” MacGregor said. “If a player is a good player, he’s a good player. Players are in the Czech league that remain in the Czech league, so you have to ask that question of anyone [in their draft year]. There are also times when players here in North American will wind up in the KHL. I think this whole Russian Factor is not a factor at all.”
For his part, Yakupov wants to play in the NHL and he doesn’t “know why you guys talk about (a) Russian Factor.”